Sunday, May 3, 2015

My First Sprint #Ironmanintwoweeks

        As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am taking part in the Texas Tri Series this year. This is a 6-race series that happens in and around Austin that includes distances from super sprint all the way up to a 70.3. Athletes can sign up for an "overall time tracking," which allows us to compete for an end-of-season overall podium spot. I've never done any of the races in the series before, so it was a perfect plan to fill a season!

      I have also never done a sprint distance race before! I started triathlon off at the Olympic distance since I was already comfortable with the lengths of each leg of the race and now have my first 140.6 in two weeks. So getting up this morning to head to a race that I knew I'd be done with in about an hour was kind of a new experience for me!

Took about 2 minutes to pack!
       Packing for a race I wouldn't even need nutrition for was a huge shift in gears from the mammoth checklist I have for the IMTX journey in two weeks! I knew when I went to bed that it'd be a whole new ball game, but felt like I could do pretty well.

        I got to the park about 6:40, parked, and rolled my bike over to transition. The race was bigger than I thought. Even though it's called "The Rookie Tri" it's put on by Austin Fit Magazine and High Five Productions, drawing a big crowd of athletes from all over. It's very different from the smaller race companies I did races with last season, but things were layed out well and finding my rack took no time at all. I was surprised to see that, while most racks were full up, the Veterans F25-29 only had about 15 bikes! (There were 19 in the Age Group). I'm not sure why my AG is so much smaller than most- certainly I'm not the only one not having babies right now, right?

    Anyhow, since I had plenty of time, I did a walk through of transition, noting the bike in/out and run in/out locations. I knew that transition time would be important since seconds matter a great deal at this distance, so I snapped my bike shoes in and secured them with rubber bands (thanks to this video, I knew how!)

   We had some pre-race yoga, which was fun, and then at 8:00 the "Open Division" was off! They had a mass start, but from then on, each age group was a time trial start due to the narrow opening at Decker Lake and the short course. It worked really well, as we each funneled in to the water a few seconds apart and were on our way. I had a good swim- a smidge slower than I wanted but I let my excitement get to me and had to take some slower deep breaths to catch my rhythm.

  I was out of the water in 7 minutes for a 300m swim and running UP the sticker-filled hill to transition. I got a ton of thorns in my toes all the way there and really wish races held at this venue would lay something down for bare feet (This was also an issue at IM Austin 70.3) but it wasn't too bad since it's spring, so they're a little softer. My t1 time said over 2 minutes, but that's because the timing mat was located where you started the 200yd run up the hill. I really only spent about 45 seconds grabbing my bike, helmet, and sunglasses, and I was off.

Bike in/out
     I knew from experience at the Austin 70.3 to carry my bike through the grass as much as I could to avoid punctures. Once I rounded the corner toward the mount line, though, I started running, yelling at the men ahead of me to NOT STOP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE MOUNT LINE (FFS, y'all, you're going to get run over!) They thankfully complied and I executed my flying mount perfectly! I was pretty excited! If you're curious about how to do it, there is an excellent 3-part video I found on YouTube.

    The bike course was balls-to-the-wall for me. I knew it was only 11 miles, peanuts compared even to my ride yesterday. However, Decker lake area is NOT flat, so even though I was sprinting almost the whole time, some of the hills got me and I ended up at about an 18.5mph average. Faster than my longer-course races, so I'll take it. I reached the dismount line in 36 minutes, got my dismount done without issue (letting those ahead of me know, again, that I wasn't stopping) and scurried in to T2. I did almost mow a guy over coming around the turn running with my bike because he was strolling along in the middle. I told him kind of gruffly to move it. Sorry dude, didn't mean to be rude, but you were in the way!

     I racked my bike, slipped on my shoes, and took off on the run. I somehow scratched my left heel yesterday and it was sore, so I took it a little slower, not wanting to make a minor issue major in two weeks for the IM. I kept a 9:30min/mile pace thanks to the off-road terrain (this is NOT the time to twist an ankle!) and the slight hills. I had more in the tank than that, but decided that this truly needed to be a warm-up. I have more chances later this summer to give it 120% and see what I can do.

     The run was nice and shady, and being only 2 miles, over before I knew it! I had been passed by two women in my age group on the run, so I knew it was likely that I wasn't 1st or 2nd, but truly thought I had a good shot at the podium. I checked results at the computer when I got back and nope! I was 5th! (Then actually 6th once the final results were in!)

Lots of bikes!

    Dang! I hadn't gone all out, but I'd gone hard the whole time and no podium! I am still proud of it, since I was in the top 1/3 and did pretty darn well overall with 150th out of 821 people. Being involved in the Tri Series adds such an increased level of competition to it for me, though. I want  that podium and I want that overall trophy at the end. It's just who I am. I think that's going to make this season a ton more fun than past seasons, though. I'm looking forward to the rest of the races and, once IMTX is on the books, seeing what kind of a race car I can really be. Right now, as my fiance says, I'm more of a diesel truck! :)

    In short, my first sprint was pretty humbling! The women who places ahead of me are spread out by mere seconds in some cases, whereas in longer races its minutes at least. I also stuck around and watched the dead last finishers come in from the Rookie wave, cheering them in off the bike, which was a ton of fun. I hope our cheers helped the run suck a little less for them, since it was warming up out there! The post-race party was really great, with awesome fajitas, delicious fresh fruit, and free beer, naturally. (Who doesn't need a Fat Tire at 9:30am?)

Post-race party. There were a TON of 12-17yr old competitors, and they were awesome!

     I've got some awesome competition here in the Austin Tri scene, and really look forward to testing myself against them in the coming months. Two weeks from today, I'll be hammered on mimosas after IMTX, though, so y'all will just have to catch up with me after that!

Also, y'all PLEASE check out these tan lines. They're pretty sexy, especially my hand!

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